Thursday, October 26, 2006

20% of Chefs are Women!

Girls want to dish it out, too
Photos by SAM THAM and T.K. LIM

IT HAS never been easy for women to work or be accepted as leading chefs in leading hotels or restaurants. And, even if they did, it would have been twice as hard to get there compared with their male counterparts.

Nafisah ... ‘we have been short-changed’For Sabry Hassan, Novotel Hydro Majestic Kuala Lumpur's executive chef, the reason is quite plain.

“Being in charge of a kitchen with nearly a 100 staff under you is like being in charge of an army,” he said. “You must be in time, be quick with the work about you and must be meticulous.”

Sabri said should there be a banquet, then the top chef had to put in long hours.

“Woman cannot work under that kind of pressure as it takes a lot out of a person.”
Sabry may seem unkind to women’s capabilities, but he still has faith in their skills.

“Women chefs are best suited for pastry work and the cold kitchen,” he said.

“These areas are where fine detailing and patience are important criteria as compared to the constantly busy hot kitchen.”

Sabry said women chefs were more sensitive and did not take criticisms as well as the men folk could.

“In my years of experience, a hard bang on the table to prove a point often results in bouts of tears from the fairer sex,” he said.

Michieletto ... ‘the scenario is like in a military’Concorde Hotel’s executive chef Arthur Heng agreed. He said it was especially hard in Asian culture.
Heng said male staff often found it uneasy in a department where a woman was the boss.

“Besides, one needs to possess a tough character and have confidence when dealing with their subordinates as the scene in a busy kitchen can sometimes get ugly with harsh words belted out often,” he said. “Feelings can easily be hurt.”

Senior chef de partie Azlina Othman, 38, of Concorde’s Melting Pot Cafe agreed that men did always hold senior positions in professional kitchens and that women had to work harder to make the mark.

“However, I do not agree that women can’t take pressure,” she said. “I have worked more than 16 hours at a stretch and I have given 100% to the task in hand.”

Azlina said she did feel sakit hati (hurt) when her male peers moved up in hierarchy instead of her.

“I did cry on the job, but that was when I was still new to the field,” said Azlina. “And, it only served to make me stronger and more resilient in my later years.”

Senior chef de partie-pastry Nafisah Mohd Ali, who heads a pastry team at Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur agrees.

“I feel that women have been short-changed in the culinary industry,” said the 34-year-old.

“It’s more challenging for us and we’re not treated any differently as we also have to carry heavy items and work long hours.”

Chefs Association of Malaysia vice-president Federico Michieletto said a chef’s job required commitment, and in some cases women chefs have to juggle with the commitment of taking care of their families.

“In a professional kitchen, the scenario can be rather like in a military where the head makes instant decisions and can take up operations in an instant. Usually men are able to do these better,” said Michieletto who is also TT Resources Bhd’s executive chef (Western Division).
While there are numerous women chefs in the industry, not many choose to work in a professional kitchen, preferring instead to teach or work in restaurants.

“Of the 2,000 chefs registered with the association, 20% are women and
many are below the age of 25,” said Michieletto.

According to Sabry, there are more women then men enrolling in hospitality courses at colleges and universities.

“But, at the end of the day, not many of the women actually come out to work in the professional kitchen.''

Even if they did, they are most often than not single. Concorde Hotel’s Nafisah is a rare one. The mother of four said she had no problems juggling her job and her family, adding that her husband understood her work as he, too, worked long hours.

“We have a maid, and as such there really isn’t any problem,” said Nafisah.

Haslinda Nawi is the person in charge of Hydro Majestic Kuala Lumpur’s cold kitchen. The 33-year-old said work took up so much of her time that she hardly had a social life.

“There’s just no time for socialising or to go on dates.”
Sharifah Maria, who works as a demi chef for Prince Hotel and Residence Kuala Lumpur, is determined to make it as a professional chef.

“We have to compete and work harder and I am willing to go the extra mile,” said the 31-year-old UiTM graduate.

“I’m take up cooking classes on my off days,” she said. “There’s just no time for anything else.”

Male chefs may dominate the kitchen in leading establishments. But, most of them look to women as their inspiration – their mothers.

“My mum has been a great influence,” said Michieletto. “In any case, I personally enjoy food cooked by women.”

News Source : Star

1 comment:

Lots for sale in Costa Rica said...

Interesting information, I think that men cook better than women.




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